Clara: Morning

I woke up and looked around. There was Annette, as she should be, with her hair falling across her face in sleep, now that it was free from the constraints of hairpins and ribbons. And there was the dress that had been rigged up for me, lying over the straight backed wooden chairs. But where was Marie?

I decided it was unlikely that she had been kidnapped: she had probably just gone for a walk. It would be better to look for her if I was dressed, too, so I got up, slipped into my petticoat and tried on the dress. It was not a perfect fit, but I was used to that, and they had done their best to adjust it so that I was at least comfortable.

The first thing I noticed was how much warmer it was than my old clothes. But that was to be expected, for they were torn and ripped, and this was not. The second thing I noticed was that my arms and legs were dirty from the ride, so I went in search of somewhere that I could clean up.

There was no washroom as such, but I found a tin tub and a pitcher of water with which I scrubbed my arms and legs and face until I was relatively clean. Then I took from beside Annette's bed her brush, and attempted to do my hair. I had had very little practice, and despite Marie and Annette's ministrations the night before it was still tangled. But I managed to tie it up in the ribbon.

Smiling at my appearance, I left the room, to find that Emmanuel was close by. "Good morning, monsieur," I said politely. He looked intently at me for a minute before recognition flashed in his eyes.

"Clara?" he said. I chuckled. I knew I looked different, but I did not expect people not to recognise me. It was amusing that he did not know my face well enough to spot me in a crowd! But I had always had the sort of memory which remembers pictures, faces and names, so I had already memorised the features of my companions.

"I have changed, hein?" I said, still laughing but trying to keep it quiet so that Annette, who looked so young and peaceful when she was sleeping, was not awoken.

"Shh, you know Annette does not like you to speak like that. And especially now that you are dressed like a lady. You should act like a lady, too. Which means no gutter talk, good table manners and riding sidesaddle!"

"You know that I could never ride sidesaddle," I said seriously. "I can barely stay on when I am hanging on with both knees. If to be allowed to ride normally I have to dress as a man, so be it. I have no table manenrs, and my speech leaves something to be desired: it would probably be better that way, anyway."

"No, Clara," said Emmanuel gently. "I have recently come across a Women's group. They would like more members. I mentioned you, Marie and Annette. Perhaps you would be interested in joining them? They are revolutionaries as we are."

"But could they protect me as the Blanche protect me?" I asked, frowning.

"Do you need protecting?" he replied, his brows also puckering. I bit my lip for a minute, then nodded nervously.

"Yes."

The End

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